Iran tops Gilas, captures FIBA Asia crown

Iran proved too much for an undermanned Gilas Pilipinas side, using its height and experience to run away with an 85-71  victory and capture the gold medal in the 27th FIBA Asia Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Without the injured Marcus Douthit, the Filipinos had trouble containing seven-foot-two Hamed Hadadi, Iran's NBA veteran who frolicked in the paint and scored a game-high 27 points to go along with 16 rebounds.

It's the third FIBA Asia title for Iran, which ruled this event in 2007 and 2009. The loss denied the Philippines a chance to win its first Asian crown since 1985. Iran, Gilas and Korea all qualified for the FIBA  Basketball World Cup to be held next year in Spain

Aside from the silver medal, the Philippines received some consolation after point guard Jayson Castro was named to the tournament's mythical team, along with Korea's Kim Mingoo, Chinese Taipei's Lin Chih Chieh, Iran's Oshin Sahakian, and Hadadi.

The Main Man: With Gilas Pilipinas walking wounded in the absence of Douthit, towering Iranian center Hadadi was simply too much, notably in the second half.

Waived by the Phoenix Suns in late June this year, the 7-foot-2 behemoth towered over his Filipino rivals with a game-high 29 points, 18 coming in the final 20 minutes, on top of 16 rebounds, two blocks and as many assists in 29 minutes of dominant play.

Proving he’s still the most intimidating inside presence in Asia, Hadadi–as expected–was named the tournament's most valuable player.
 
Honorable Mentions: Versatile Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, crafty playmaker Mahdi Kamrany and do-it-all Oshin Sahakian showed there’s more to Iran than just their prized center.

The 6-foot-6 Bahrami bucked a foul-plagued outing with 19 markers, most of them in the second half, plus seven assists while the 5-foot-11 Kamrany displayed an all-around outing of 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Not to be outshone was the 6-foot-7 Sahakian, who finished with a double-double outing of 12 points and as many rebounds, enough to earn for himself the tourney’s Best Power Forward award.
 
Game Turning Point: Kamrany’s buzzer-beating triple at the end of the third canto proved to the beginning of the Nationals’ end in the thrilling match.

After Jimmy Alapag canned two freebies that pulled Gilas within 53-59, the Iranians made the most out of the 5.8 seconds left in the third canto, hurriedly relaying the leather to a wide-open Kamrany, who coolly sank a right corner triple that restored their lead to nine.

It was all Iran after that. Hamed Afagh translated a lousy inbound pass by Larry Fonacier into an easy lay-in then Hamed Hadadi buckled down to work by scoring six of the team’s next eight points that put in full control going to the final 5:08 of play.
 
They Said It:
 
Iran coach Memi Becirovic: “Today’s game was the toughest game for us because we know 20,000 fans are behind the Philippine team. They played very good and they fight every time.”
 
Iran center Hamed Hadadi: “They missed their center Marcus (Douthit) but still they played very well. I think the best team we played were the Philippines.”

Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes: “Unfortunately, it ended the way it did. Still, if somebody told me last month that on August 11 we would have silver medals around our necks, we’ll be very, very happy. Ecstatic in fact. We came and achieved what we set out to achieve. Obviously, we wanted to win that gold but in the end, especially without Marcus, it was too difficult for us. I’m very, very proud of my players. They fought tooth and nail.”
 

Gilas Pilipinas guard Jayson William: “‘Yung goal namin, na-achieve namin (of making it to the FIBA World Cup in Spain). Pasalamat rin kami na nakaharap namin sila sa finals para sa experience.” 

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